Every time Sen. Rand Paul confronts top White House doctor Anthony Fauci during Senate committee hearings, he is accused of just playing politics to raise money.
Never mind that Paul has consistently won his face-offs with Fauci and brought attention to important COVID-19-related issues. Whether it’s coronavirus potentially having origins in a Chinese lab funded under Fauci’s authority, Fauci coordinating to silence dissident scientists, or Fauci’s many flip-flops from masks to schools, Paul’s high-profile scrutiny of Fauci has shined light on many previously overlooked scandals. Paul’s critics dismiss all of this substantive inquiry as mere showmanship and fundraising.
“What you saw at the hearing today was pure ad hominem. And I called him out because that’s exactly what he’s doing: he’s raising money,” Dr. Fauci says on his exchange with Sen. Paul.https://t.co/E79K7Wpc85
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 12, 2022
Pandemic political profiteering by raising donations calling for “Fire Fauci” on your website is the most disgusting & depraved thing I’ve ever witnessed @RandPaul—you spit on the grave of all who who have died & spit on face of human decency @SenRandPaul.pic.twitter.com/rLYm0eoQuy
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 12, 2022
Is Rand Paul Fundraising Off Fauci?
Let’s be clear: Rand Paul is fundraising off of his efforts to fire Fauci. He has a button on his website featuring this campaign. But what’s wrong with that?
As Paul said in an interview after their latest showdown, “I’m proud of the fact people go to RandPaul.com raising money to fire Fauci because he is a menace. Everything he said has been incorrect. And I think he is part of the problem.” (Editor’s note: It’s kind of hilarious that he’s literally plugging the URL in the interview defending his fundraising. Absolutely savage).
We know Paul raises money over this issue, and he has no problem admitting that he asks for donations to help fire Fauci.
But does this mean this is the actual purpose of Paul’s questions?
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump asked the same question on Thursday in a column titled, “How politically helpful have Rand Paul’s attacks on Anthony Fauci been?”
Using spikes in Google traffic each time Fauci and Paul have squared off, Bump determined that Paul had raised his media profile each time and, yes, that has translated into increased donations.
But this didn’t seem to lead Bump to the conclusion that Paul’s Fauci questions were merely or even primarily about political or financial gain.
“Paul was seeing higher weekly totals than he had been,” Bump writes, analyzing the two men’s exchanges. “From early May on, though, the level of fundraising was consistently at or above $100,000 a week, with only one exception. That pattern began when he got into the ‘gain of function’ fight with Fauci.”
Is Rand Paul’s Inquiry Still Legitimate?
But what Bump said next was most instructive.
“This is circumstantial,” Bump observed (emphasis added). “It’s clear that Paul is trying to generate contributions and attention from his fights with Fauci (the website to which Fauci referred is online, for example), but it’s not clear that this is central to Paul’s political efforts.
“Nor should one assume Paul’s confrontations are solely offered in bad faith,” Bump wrote. “While Fauci has repeatedly pushed back on his line of questioning, it’s a line of questioning that our fact-checkers consider to be in a gray area.”
Analysis: How politically helpful have Rand Paul’s attacks on Anthony Fauci been? https://t.co/vtXamFFVCO
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 13, 2022
If even the Washington Post fact-checkers aren’t sure about these questions, why shouldn’t someone be asking them given the weight of this pandemic? Why shouldn’t a U.S. senator take the opportunity to ask them?
Sure, Paul is playing politics, and raising money off what he considers Fauci’s chronic dishonesty. But that alleged dishonesty is the focus. It’s the thing.
Learning the truth about the government’s mismanagement of this horrible sickness that has touched us all over the last two years takes precedence over dismissing hard questions due to a seemingly shifty doctor’s feelings or the health of a senator’s campaign account.
So, forget the critics. Rand Paul should keep asking these questions. Maybe one day Anthony Fauci will finally answer them.